This article at Observer on much of modern writing being steaming cow chips struck a couple of jarring chords.

I teach English, and am acutely conscious of the “five paragraph”, teaching to the exam, model of writing training the article talks about. It’s so pervasive though. And there’s such little time – “pig weighing” – and such high expectations of “getting the right grades”…  The utopian dream of being an inspirational teacher bucking the system is being constantly disturbed by the realpolitik of Target Grades, MiDyIS data (however that’s capitalised) and other five year plan impossibilities.

As the article suggests, few people devote time to reading any more. My students are all dedicated, but there are so many other things demanding their attention, formulae to be learned. While I love and enthuse about “English” – words and that – it most often feels like it’s a struggle against people who can do spreadsheets.

Had to skip a day’s online commentary, as my Android handset developed a sudden battery hemorrhage. Switching off, then dropping about 30% battery in a couple of minutes. Most disconcerting. Insert image of doornail.

Thusly, I spent my time on the laptop searching out possible causes for that. For your info, it is likeliest Google Play Services getting stuck in some sort of loop. Tries to do something repeatedly for some unknown and unpredictable reason, or something…

One of those ‘one of those things’ things. Yeah. Apparently a reboot usually fixes the problem, which will surprise no one familiar with the tech support classic “Have you tried switching it off then on again?” How far we’ve come.

 The device seems to have been ok today, so there you go. [FX: Sound of melting diodes]

The five parts of this passage are in the wrong order. What is the correct order?

A. Fortunately, he does not have to convert raw scores to quotients.

B. Tonight, the teacher is marking reading tests.

C. Not only that, but the mark scheme runs to 32 pages also.

D. Each answer is multiple choice, and the sheets have been photocopied so it’s quite hard to make out the answers.

E. He is thinking about drinking gin on a school night.

Answers are available on the Scorer/Profiler CD-ROM, but we won’t tell you whereabouts.

Had a rummage in a charity shop vinyl section at the weekend.  Naught but Mrs Mills at the piano, Golden Parade of Pops 1976, Val Doonican and Orchestral Sounds of Tijuana. There was me ready to splash a small amount of cash too. But no. The crates have all been dug.

Currently considering a more appropriate title for what I was calling ‘Sunday in the garden’, mostly because it sounds hopelessly boring and twee. Anyway, the point is the content, of course, and over the summer the content of the garden has changed enormously.

I mean, ‘enormous’ is often used glibly in such a context, but srsly, this garden has changed, man. Veg end went from this:

To this:

Eh? EH? Note the petunias. And at the other end, we introduced hens.

Chooks love green leaves and scratching about, so the girls got stuck right into the plants here. It’s now a twig-and-soil Mad Max-ish hen zone. Every day throws up some new excavated surprise – decades-old crisp bags, neolithic pottery shards, mouse burial complexes aligned with Mus Major in 10,500 BC… they are quite the archaeologists. 

I mean, this was August, so they’ve really gone at it even since this pic.  The troupe is Settled Right In. This is they having a dust bath ‘neath an acer.

So, yeah! Tending the fowl, weeding, holiday, toddlers… blog updates have been fairly low down the pecking order this summer.

Saturday night’s alright for loafing. I’m a big fan of IFTTT at the moment. It’s great for automating fiddly tasks I’d never get round to otherwise. “Add” a track on Spotify, for example, and it could send it to a specific playlist. Does the same with SoundCloud, for another example. So, one might generate a nice evening selection wivout scarcely lifting a thumb.

Fiddle de dee, loaf, loaf, loaf. Apparently, yesterday was National Guacamole Day. Some avocado marketing guru is patting themselves on the back for that, I’m sure. However, as a fan of guac, it deserves a nod. SFA, take it away!

I need revolution, ’cause I can’t afford the price of cake.

This time, the orange streetlight loomed large in the foreground. With an irritated click of the tongue, Bryan took two steps to the right. 

Right, he thought. 

The overgrown privet now shaded the lamp on its post, but a cloud had appeared along the top of the moon, occluding the upper half. Across the garden Jean, crouching in the shadows, shifted on her haunches.

“How much longer now, Bry?”

“Just a minute love.” Bryan paused, willing the clouds south west with a wave of his hand. Not much cop, he mumbled. 

“What was that, Bry?”

“I said, wrong f stop.” Stalling. “Here we go.” Mercifully, the cloud scudded off, revealing the huge orb of the full moon. “Right, now!” Jean rose slowly from her position by the bay and, as Bryan clicked, she stood with her arms aloft, the brilliant white of the moon illuminating her. 
A few moments passed.

“Well, have you done?”

“What? Oh, yes, sorry love.” Bryan, flustered, fiddling with the dial on the camera, started towards where Jean’s dressing gown hung from a branch on the bay. A fresh cloud scudded over the moon. In the sudden dark, he clouted his foot on the low fence around the lavender bed and with a grunt hit the turf.

“Bry? Y’daft beggar.”

“I’m alright, love… Hang on.” As the moon emerged, Jean watched Bryan heave himself to his hands and knees, groping about for his glasses, which sat askew on his moonlit scalp.

 She stifled a giggle and reached for her dressing gown. Pulling it on and fishing her spectacles from the pocket, she started over to help.

The full moon shone down.